Sunday, January 26, 2014

BE MY DOWNFALL (Whitman University #3) by Lyla Payne

Thank you to Lyla Payne (AKA Trisha Leigh) for providing this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

 AUTHOR: Lyla Payne -- Twitter | Website
 PUBLISHER: Self-Published on September 20, 2013
 GENRE: New Adult, Romance
 PAGES: 310
 SOURCE: eARC from author
 BUY IT: Barnes and Noble | Amazon
 Find it on Goodreads

*May not be suitable for those under 18 years old.*

Toby Wright has always prided himself on being one of the most normal guys at Whitman University. He loves his parents, has a great job lined up after graduation, and with the exception of attempting to cross the unbalanced Sebastian Blair sophomore year, has kept his nose pretty clean.

But the rich never have empty closets, and memories long stashed away come spilling free when notorious party girl Kennedy Gilbert almost dies in his dorm room.

Nobody really knows how Kennedy manages to stay in good standing at Whitman–she never goes to class, doesn’t pretend to care about her future, and as far as people can tell, is never sober. This isn’t her first meeting with a stomach pump, but it is the first time she’s woken up to Toby’s concerned brown eyes. Despite the fact that she prefers life without friends, he gets under her skin with his insistence on playing her guardian angel.

No one knows better than Toby that people can only be saved if they want to be, but the realization that she has no one else draws him back into the shadows of Kennedy’s life–and eventually into her bed. But she long ago came to terms with a truth that Toby refuses to accept: she doesn’t want to be rescued, she only wants to forget.

Unwilling to give up on her, Toby’s dragged under by this broken girl and her dark, twisted Whitman University he never guessed existed. If he struggles to the surface, he’ll abandon someone he loves for the second time in his life. If he doesn’t, it won’t be long until they both drown. 

Be My Downfall was one of my most-awaited and most-impatient-for fall 2014 titles. I received it just a few days before I got diagnosed with leukemia and everything in my life became a blur of chaos. Be My Downfall was a welcome escape from the reality I was living in that moment.

The third installment of the Whitman University series focuses on Toby Wright and Kennedy Gilbert. Toby has had a minor role in each of the first two books in the series and I was looking very forward to the day when he would get his own book. Of all the guys in the Whitman University world, I've found him to be the most human and the most introspective, even though he initially came off as having a harsh side.

Kennedy Gilbert was an entirely new character, known for her penchant to party and notorious for her truly death-defying moments while imbibing. She chooses alcohol over friends and attachment to any people.

Toby is facing the pressure in his future professional life from his parents who don't support his dreams to be a writer and wish he would pursue the business-side of filmmaking, if he pursues it at all.

Each of them are so broken in their own ways that the odds that they should be able to come together seem extremely slim, yet they seem drawn to each other. Against those odds, they manage to be for each other the one person who can help them heal their wounds.

Lyla dealt with a really difficult topic in the form of alcoholism, especially considering the degree to which Kennedy is affected by it. At the beginning of the novel, it seems like death by alcohol poisoning is Kennedy's future. Lyla handles it in a really authentic manner -- she doesn't sugarcoat it, glamorize it, or allow Kennedy to suddenly be magically fixed by a boy. She struggles, she relapses, she even disappears for awhile.

I fell in love with the Whitman University in June and it was my first step into the world of NA. Broken at Love, the first in the series, was absolute perfection to me. While I loved By Referral Only and I enjoyed the sweeter story of Ruby and Cole, I remained extremely partial to Broken at Love, because I felt Lyla really captured each character so well and wrote the multiple points of view seamlessly. But Be My Downfall was so well done and really dealt with some of the nitty gritty things, making it so unique.

While I do remain taken with with Broken at Love (I have a habit of loving the first book in the series the most), Be My Downfall edged out By Referral Only to take the spot of my second favorite book in the Whitman University series -- and it's definitely worth a read. If you love it as much as I did, you'll finish it in one sitting.

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